Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ukraine 8 – Day 11 (October 9)

Our patient (Malcolm) stayed at home again today, as he had had another rough night. He was certainly much stronger this morning, though, so we expect him to be raring to go tomorrow.

Vadym took Helen and I visiting today. We visited four different homes. That doesn’t sound like much, but quantity is made up for by quality. We sit down in the home and stay as long as they want us to. I really enjoyed being able to listen to people without any thought of the clock. I think they did too.

The first visit was one of the highlights of the trip thus far (for me). We visited a mom (Luba), her 11 year-old daughter (Maria), and her handicapped son (Wasyl). Maria was such a sweet little girl; she captured a piece of our heart immediately. She sang us a song and read a portion out of her Kid’s Bible to us. Her favourite story is the one about Noah’s ark. We told her that Jesus is like the boat, and just like the people had to climb into the boat, so every one of us needs to come inside Jesus to be safe from the storm that is coming for sure. Luba recently became a Christian, and she is passing on her love for Christ to her kids.

We treasured our visit immensely. Vadym had told us the day before how he had managed to get a picture of himself with David and Victoria Beckham. Many people would die to meet those two, but after our visit I couldn’t help thinking that I would rather see Luba, Maria, and Wasyl again than meet the Beckhams or the Pitts any day.

I’ll just mention the last visit of the day. It was with a young father who is now an invalid, and as such will never be able to support his family again. He looked so sick. His wife is the sole breadwinner, but she only brings home $100 CAD a month. That has to cover food, heat, clothes, and family vacations. Of those four things, they’re doing well to get three of them. Guess which one goes out the window. They have so much against them. He faces the daily frustrations of his inadequacies. They are flying on their last engine; if she goes down, they all go down. And even if she never goes down, there’s the constant struggle for him to find a reason to want to stay up. It makes me sick to think of the times I’ve coveted a larger salary. It makes me sick to think of how I’ve coveted other people’s toys. In the West our greatest fear is insignificance; in the rest of the world people are just trying to survive.

You can appreciate how hard we struggled to find something to say to these people. “Chin up, things will get better some day” doesn’t translate very well into Ukrainian. It hardly sounds good in American. I said two things: (1) I don’t know your pain. I haven’t felt it that bad yet. (2) The biblical writers did know about pain, and they taught us to bank our hopes on the future kingdom of Jesus. King Jesus will rule his kingdom perfectly. There will be no Stalins. And he will rule better than even Yushenko. He will rule with perfect justice and righteousness. Like Aragon in Lord of the Rings, he who can slay with the sword like no other will also be uniquely skillful in bringing perfect healing to all of the wounded. It will be a kingdom of peace, justice, glory, and inexpressible joy. And thus the crucial thing for us in this life is to surrender now to the King who will reign victorious in a coming day, and come on to his side before it’s too late. I think David Gooding wrote something like this once: By dying Jesus dealt death itself the death-blow.

We hope the words were helpful. We think they were. We know the groceries and clothes were; the hugs say it all.

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